Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thank You Peter Welch

Peter Welch, Vermont's sole member of the House of Representatives, courageously voted against the Wall Street bailout bill today.

Thanks to principled and astute representatives like Mr. Welch, the 700 billion dollar bailout was rightly defeated, confounding the financial industry and delighting working Vermonters who believe in thrift, fairness and common sense.

Vermonters know that the best investments are education, strong local communities and good topsoil. Thank you, Mr. Welch, for standing up to tremendous pressure from financial lobbyists and the Bush administration and doing the right thing.

To send your own thank you note to Peter Welch, please visit his website.

To get a sense of how outrageous this bailout proposal really is, please take a moment to read 10 Reasons We Should Say NO to the 700 Billion Dollar Bailout.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blood and Curry

Photo by Ryan Libre

I'm in a new country, typing on a new laptop, and just published a new blog about the 2008 Phuket Vegetarian Festival that features an odd combination of self-mutilation and delicious Thai food.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I'm shocked, dismayed and, frankly, scared about the current state of American politics. Our nation is being hijacked by a rich, war-mongering elite.

Here are three political essays I hope you take a moment to read.

10 Reasons We Should Say No To The 700 Billion Dollar Bailout
by Matador founder Ross Borden.

Why There's No Way I'm Voting For McCain
by me.

Matador's Official Endorsement Of Barack Obama.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Future Of Travel Writing?

Today, Worldhum's Michael Yessis published an interview with Rolf Potts that's one of the more thoughtful commentaries about the travel writing industry I've read this year.

Here's the final question:


Now that you’ve looked back, where do you see travel writing headed in the next decade?


In the business sense, I have no clue where travel writing is headed—though if I did, I could make a fortune as a media consultant. Consumer travel writing is paired quite closely with the travel industry, and thus is likely to wind up wherever the most readers are tuning in—be it websites, or magazines, or whatever media technology is invented next week. Literary travel writing will continue to appear wherever it is championed by individual editors and publishers, and its more specialized readership will follow accordingly.

In artistic terms, I think travel writing will always be the product of its age. As recently as one hundred years ago, for example, travel writing was characterized by detailed cultural and topographical descriptions. In an age of mass information, description is no longer enough; writers need to make connections and actively interpret the texture of places that can retain their distinct character even as they change rapidly. This applies to American flyover country as much as it does Yemen or Botswana.

It’s been said that travel literature was crucial to the evolution of the modern novel, that Victorian Romanticism emerged from a 19th-century travel boom that created a fascination with faraway places. I’d like to think that travel literature in coming decades will champion a kind of Postmodern Realism—a measured-yet-optimistic sensibility that cuts through the fantasies of tourism and the alarmist hue of international news reporting to leave us with something essentially human and true about the rest of the world.


Michael and Rolf are two of the nicest guys in the travel writing world.

Full interview is here.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

New Article! Youth Travel Programs

Taking a year to vagabond through China and study Mandarin looks more and more like a wise and practical alternative to a prestigious internship with Lehman Brothers or Bear Sterns.

Youth travel programs are one of the most important investments we can make. Please take a minute to read my latest essay over on the Matador Study blog:

Youth Travel Programs Are Vital To Our Security

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Documentary Arts Asia

Photo by Ryan Libre

My good friend and colleague Ryan Libre has founded an organization called Documentary Arts Asia, a growing community of photographers, writers and artists working to share the important untold stories of Asia through new media, art and photojournalism.

Check out 2 of DAA's first feature presentations:

China Mobile - a photo essay about China on the move:

The Asoke
- a photo essay about a particularly enlightened sect of radical Buddhism in Thailand.

(If you have a slow connection, please wait a moment for the photo essays to load.)

DAA is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, not far from the Pun Pun Farm.

Have you ever thought of starting an NGO? Check out Ryan's latest Matador article, How to Start a Successful NGO In 10 Steps.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Travel Risks

Photo by Ben

“Real adventure - self-determined, self-motivated, often risky - forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

–Mark Jenkins

I've got a new article up on the traveler's notebook. It's about travel risks worth taking, and I'd love to read your comments.

10 Travel Risks Worth Taking


Friday, September 05, 2008

Saigon Reflections

The Dragons program in Cambodia is over, and once again I'm writing and editing for Matador, the San Francisco based company that's breaking new frontiers in online travel media.

Here's a link to my most recent blog post on Matador, a reflection on lessons of the past two months and the exciting potential of online travel community:

"Live From The Nirvana Cafe"

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